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18 Posts authored by: Rieva Lesonsky

A trend born of the Great Recession is having a huge effect on retailers—nearly a decade later.

 

“Consumers don’t want to acquire more stuff—they want to do more stuff,” says Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Analyst at NPD Group. Consumer spending is shifting from purchasing products to spending on experiences, such as vacationing, eating out or attending concerts.

 

To compete, NPD Group advises, retailers need to create a more exciting shopping experience. Younger shoppers, in particular, seek “experiences” as part of their shopping journeys.

 

How can you improve the experience factor of your store? Here are six ideas.

1. Tune in. Music not only soothes the savage beast; it also gets customers—particularly Gen Z’ers—to spend more time in your store. In fact, according to a report by Fitch, Gen Z considers music an essential sign a store is open. Without music, your store won’t get their attention. But Gen Z consumers aren’t the only people who prefer to listen while they shop: A whopping 84 percent of respondents in The State of Brick & Mortar: 2017 survey say music makes shopping more enjoyable, while 54 percent say they’re more likely to recommend stores that play music to their friends and family.

Learn more about Gen Z: Your Consumer is Changing Again: What You Need to Know About Marketing to Gen Z

 

2. Be touchy. According to Fitch, holding and feeling products before they buy is a key part of the purchasing process for Gen Z shoppers. If you sell consumer electronics, put out floor models for customers to play with. Do you sell cosmetics or gourmet food?  Have plenty of testers and samples on hand. If you sell apparel, accessories or home decor, create lush displays that tempt shoppers to reach out and touch. 54519930_s.jpg

 

3. Get social. Creating and sharing memories is more important to today’s consumers than buying products, according to NPD Group—so make your store a place where it’s easy for shoppers to share their experiences. For example, an Instagram-worthy window display can attract crowds to take selfies. Encourage and incentivize shoppers to take those selfies and tag your business in social media posts; then pick a winner every week and give them a gift card.

 

4. Mix it up. Technology has made shoppers’ attention spans shorter than ever. Just as they expect an ever-changing stream of social media content, younger shoppers expect new stimuli from stores, according to the 10 Trends Millennial Retail report from Kelton. Stop your store from being boring by frequently changing your window displays, moving merchandise around or adding seasonal decor. You can even experiment with “pop-up” stores at other locations.

 

5. Think local. Millennials in the Kelton study would much rather support small, independent local retailers than big chains. Play up your status as a local small business by getting involved in “buy local” initiatives and events in your community. Embrace the local community in your store, too. For example, you could hold a monthly in-store concert where a local band performs while shoppers enjoy a discount. Display local artists’ or photographers’ work on your walls and swap it out every month. (You can even sell the artwork and take a percentage of the price as commission.)

Take your local focus one step further: Why Local SEO Matters More Than Ever (and 4 Steps to Success)

 

 

6. Get personal. Offer a personal touch by providing friendly guidance to help shoppers make decisions. Have salespeople bring customers accessories to complete an outfit while they’re trying it on, for instance. Start a loyalty program so you can record customers’ purchasing behavior and preferences. This enables you to customize your marketing messages for their specific interests, delivering a more personal experience.

Your Full Guide to Customer Loyalty Programs: The Small Business Guide to Customer Loyalty Programs

 

These 6 ideas will help bring in more traffic and ensure that you’ve optimized your customer’s experience in your store.

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Have you made a New Year’s resolution to take your marketing efforts up a notch? Good for you. Here are seven changes guaranteed to give you better results in 2018.

 

1. Update your website. Has it been a few years since you revamped your website? Is time on site declining or are conversions dropping? If your website’s not doing what you want it to do, it’s time for an upgrade. Since mobile devices now account for 51.3 percent of internet use, your website needs to be designed with a “mobile-first” approach in order to make the sale. If you’re not a website expert yourself, enlist the help of a pro—this is one area where you shouldn’t skimp.

          Related article: Is Your Website Driving Millennials Away? Here are 6 Warning Signs

 

2. Improve your website SEO. The keywords that got traffic last year (or last month) may not work today. Regularly research to see which keywords your target customers use when they look for businesses like yours. Then incorporate those keywords into your website text, meta descriptions, tags and page titles. As voice search tools like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa become more popular, voice search is predicted to soar in the next few years. Get ahead by incorporating natural, spoken-word keyword phrases. Like website design, SEO is another task best handled by an expert. While this will cost you some money, it will save you tons of time.55171740_s.jpg

 

3. Improve your local SEO. If consumers are not finding your local business, a few small tweaks to your local SEO can help. List your business on as many local search directories as you can, including Google My Business, Yelp and any industry-specific or regional directories your customers are likely to use. Be sure your business name, address and phone number (NAP) are listed exactly the same on each directory. Add detailed information to complete your profile on search directories. Finally, update your profile regularly to include new information such as special hours or upcoming promotions—this will help boost your local SEO, too.

Related article: Why Local SEO Matters More Than Ever (and 4 Steps to Success)

 

4. Maximize the power of online reviews. A whopping 97 percent of consumers read online reviews for local businesses this year, and 85 percent of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family. Harness the power of your online reviews by actively monitoring them, responding to them, and encouraging customers to leave reviews. Don’t offer rewards for reviews; instead, let customers know which review sites you’re on and make it easy for them to find you.

Related article: 9 Ways to Discover What Your Customers Really Think of Your Business

 

 

5. Create strong calls to action. Whether it’s a pay-per-click ad, a print ad, or the homepage of your business website, always direct your prospects with a clear call to action. Every marketing piece you create (including every page of your website) should tell customers exactly what you want them to do: “Shop now,” “Call for a consultation today,” or “Sign up.”

 

6. Fine-tune your email marketing efforts. Email is still one of the most effective marketing techniques around—not to mention having great ROI. In 2018, use your email marketing service’s analytics to really focus on what works and what doesn’t. Use A/B testing to discover the most effective offers, subject lines and cadence for your emails. And don’t forget to keep growing that email list.

Related article: The Surprising Impact of Email Marketing and how to Maximize its Effect

 

7. Spring for social media advertising. If you’ve been marketing with social media for a while, you know it’s gotten harder to get noticed organically. To maintain your social profile, you’ll need to invest in social media advertising. (With 79 percent of adult internet users on Facebook and 76 percent of those using it daily, you can’t afford not to.) An easy way to get started: use Promoted Posts on Facebook or Instagram to “boost” your most popular posts.

Related article: The Top Social Media Sites You Should Consider for Advertising

 

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America,its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

When it comes to marketing promotions, timing is everything. Here are some ways the timing of your promotions can boost sales.

 

1.  Seasonal promotions: Some promotions work best when timed to the seasons, such as summer or winter clothing, garden supplies in spring or back-to-school supplies at the end of summer.

 

2.  Holiday promotions: These days, it’s basically an American tradition to hold sales on every major holiday—and most minor ones. It helps to tie your promotions into the holiday themes, such as pizza shops and bakeries discounting pies on National Pi Day (celebrated on March 14 every year). Don’t overlook the “silly” holidays, such as Talk Like a Pirate Day, either.

 

3.  Cyclical promotions: Time promotions to boost sales during typically slow times of the year, such as your off-season. During extremely competitive times of year, you’ll need to increase your promotional efforts. Your customers’ sales cycles matter, too. Complex or costly purchases need a longer promotion time.51977953_s.jpg

 

4.  Event-based promotions: Consider tying promotions into events such as your business’s anniversary, election day, the Olympics or a community event.

 

5.  Last-minute promotions: Always be ready to profit from the unexpected. A sudden cold snap could make promotions on scarves and gloves profitable. Next time there’s an unexpected downpour, set up a display of rain gear at the front of your store. E-commerce businesses can hold flash sales tied to trending events, like an unexpected upset on Monday Night Football.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

6.  Purchase-based promotions: When a customer purchases a new winter coat, offer them a discount on a scarf or gloves to go with it. E-commerce businesses should have related products pop up (at a discount) on the checkout page.

 

7. Repeat customer promotions: Give customers who spent $50 at your business a gift card good for $10 — valid for the following month. This helps ensure a steady stream of customers come back to spend their gift cards.

 

8.  Limited-time promotions: If business is slow, try sending a limited-time offer or discount by text message, or posting it on social media. For example, a restaurant could offer a 2-for-1 lunch special from 11:30 to 1:30 only. Just be sure to use limited-time offers sparingly, or customers may come to rely on them.

 

How to Time It Right

How can you figure out what promotional timing is likely to be most effective? Start by reviewing your past years’ sales and marketing data. When do sales spike or ebb? What promotions work best when?  Do certain kinds of customers buy at specific times?

 

Review your digital marketing and sales analytics. What dates and times of day do your email, social media or mobile marketing messages get the best results? Sending an email promotion at 3 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. could make all the difference.

 

Let customers control the timing of the messages they receive. Instead of sending your subscribers marketing emails once a week, allow subscribers to customize their settings and get messages monthly, weekly or more often.

 

Watch your competitors’ promotions. If every other restaurant in town is offering a Valentine’s Day special, how can you time it differently? How about an order-ahead catered Valentine’s dinner for customers to pick up, or a day-after-Valentine’s Day special for singles?

 

Plan It Out

Create a marketing calendar to plan the best times for specific promotions. Build in time for anything that requires advance planning, such as placing ads or revising your website copy. That way, you won't miss any deadlines or get caught short when the time for a particular promotion is right.

 

Marketing automation software can help you time promotions perfectly by scheduling emails to send automatically when customers take certain actions. Drip, Infusionsoft and Zoho Campaigns are three marketing automation tools to look into.

 

Finally, always include restrictions and deadlines in your time-based marketing materials, so customers will never be taken by surprise.

 

Related Article: How to Start a Loyalty Program Before the Holidays

Related Article: 8 Cash Flow Tips to Season-Proof your Seasonal Business

Related Article: 13 Summer Marketing Ideas to Boost Small Business Sales

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America,its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Are you ignoring an obvious way to boost your sales? If you aren’t marketing to existing customers, the answer is yes.

Most small business owners focus their marketing efforts on attracting new customers. Of course, you need to keep a pipeline of new business flowing, but you should never ignore your current customers. Selling more to them is a quick and easy way to grow your business.

Here are my top 10 tips for doing so.

 

1.  Keep your customers happy. Never try to sell more to a customer unless you’re certain they’re completely happy with your business. Conducting customer surveys, engaging with customers on social media, and following up after the sale are all great ways to gauge your customers’ satisfaction.41612078_s.jpg

 

2.   Pinpoint the most profitable customers. Go for the low-hanging fruit by identifying your best, most profitable customers and targeting them first. They’re more likely to trust and buy from you, so it’s a quick way to ramp up sales.

 

3.   Reward loyal customers. How do you feel when a business you’ve patronized for years offers discounts and deals for first-time customers only? Not valued, right? Don't treat your loyal customers like second-class citizens—offer special perks, discounts and rewards just for them. When customers join your official customer loyalty program, you can collect more details about them, enabling you to market to them more effectively.

   CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

4.   Stay in touch. Existing customers are already familiar with your business, so you don’t have to build brand awareness — but you do need to stay top of mind. Keep your business on your customers’ radar with email and social media marketing that lets them know about special offers or new products and services.

 

5.   Pay attention. Stay in tune with what customers are saying not just about your business, but also about their needs, on social media. This can give you ideas for how best to approach them. Suppose you notice a customer on LinkedIn is asking questions about selling overseas. Reach out to learn more about their needs and how you can help. 

 

6.  Make it easy to buy from you again. Did a customer buy school uniforms from your e-commerce site last August? Email her in July with special offers and an easy way to reorder the same styles as last year in bigger sizes. Set up auto-renewal programs that customers can opt into — it simplifies their lives and yours.

 

7.   Focus on the customer. Don’t barrage customers with irrelevant emails. Use what you know about your customers to personalize your outreach. Is there a customer who always brings her elderly mother to your restaurant for lunch? Let her know about your early-bird dinner specials or offer her a discount for home delivery for those times Mom isn’t up to going out.

 

8.   Follow up on dormant customers. Don’t let once-loyal customers fade away. Contact customers you haven’t heard from in a while with email or print offers to lure them back.

 

9.   Provide great after-sale service. Some companies put all their efforts into making the sale and then ignore their customers once the money changes hands. Follow up with your customers to make sure they’re satisfied. Ask if there’s anything else you can do for them? Once you know they’re satisfied, try cross-selling ancillary products or services, or upselling them to a more expensive version.

 

10.   Develop a system. Create a process for identifying customer needs, connecting with them, developing offers and suggesting additional products or services. When all your salespeople have a plan to follow, it boosts your chances of selling more.

 

In the end, selling more to your current customers comes down to developing lasting relationships. I’ve had longtime customers contact my business about services I didn’t even offer, simply because they trust our work. When customers know and trust your business, they’re more likely to turn to you first for anything they need.

 

RELATED ARTICLE:  How Good Is Your Customer Service? Here Are 6 Steps to Find Out

RELATED ARTICLE: Understanding Your Ideal Customer

RELATED ARTICLE: How to Start a Loyalty Program Before the Holidays

RELATED ARTICLE: The Value of Customer Loyalty − Infographic

RELATED ARTICLE: Why Listening to Social Media Can Grow Your Small Business

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America,its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Does your retail business have a loyalty program in place? If not, now is the time to launch one before the holiday shopping season reaches its peak.

A loyalty program can get first-time shoppers to come back again and again for holiday shopping — and long after the gifts are unwrapped. With more traffic in your store, the holiday season is the perfect time to grow your loyalty program membership.

 

Loyalty programs have many benefits for retailers—and are highly popular with customers. According to the 2017 Holiday Retail Outlook, 76 percent of consumers belong to a loyalty/rewards program, and 72 percent say a loyalty program makes them more likely to shop at a specific retailer. Follow these steps to start your loyalty program.

 

    CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

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1.  Know what your customers want. What attracts customers to a loyalty program? According to the Holiday Retail Outlook, these are the most desirable features:

    • Earning rewards for my purchases — 88 percent

    • Receiving special services — 32 percent

    • Ability to use rewards for experiences — 14 percent

    • Having a mobile app to store membership info — 12 percent

    • Being recognized with a higher status — 8 percent

Before choosing a loyalty program, it’s a good idea to survey your customers and see what rewards they want most.

 

2. Make it worth their while. You can handle loyalty rewards in a variety of ways. For example, you can give points redeemable for rewards; give customers cash back on purchases; or offer “tiered” rewards where perks get better the more shoppers spend. You can also mix it up by offering all of the above. Whatever system you choose, at this time of year shoppers should be able to earn meaningful rewards quickly. More than half (59 percent) of consumers use loyalty program rewards to do their holiday shopping, so the faster they can earn rewards, the more shopping they’ll do in your store. (Be sure the rewards are helping, not hurting, your profit margins).

 

RELATED ARTICLE: Tips for Hiring Seasonal Employees Ahead of the Holiday Rush

 

3. Decide what you want. Many retail loyalty programs can also track shopper behavior and help you market to individuals based on their past purchases and other information. What are your goals for the loyalty program? What is your budget? What loyalty/rewards programs do your competitors offer? What kind of data do you want to collect about your customers and how do you want to use it?

 

4. Assess your options. Popular loyalty programs include Belly, FiveStars and Perka. Look for a loyalty program that is tailored for small retailers and meets both your and your customers’ needs. Be sure to ask about setup fees as well as monthly costs. Also take into account how easy the program is to use—both for your employees and your customers. For example, some customers may still prefer loyalty programs that offer plastic loyalty cards, not just mobile apps. Finally, with holiday season rapidly approaching, you’ll need a program you can get up and running fast.

 

5. Spread the word. Aggressive marketing is key to the success of a loyalty program. Promote your program in your holiday advertising, on your website, on social media and with signage in your store. Employees should educate customers about the benefits of the loyalty program and encourage them to sign up. Make it as simple as possible to join the program—no one wants to hold up the whole line of customers while they fill out a lengthy form. As you attract more loyalty program customers, you can even offer them rewards for getting others to sign up or spreading the word on social media.

 

Once the holiday shopping season ends, don’t let your loyalty program marketing lag. Keep signing up new members and creating new rewards. Do it right, and a loyalty program can be the holiday gift that keeps on giving.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of

America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Your e-commerce website faces stiffer competition every day. Does it have what you need to convince customers to buy? Here are 10 essentials to e-commerce success.

  1. Fast loading: Online shoppers are impatient. More than half (53 percent) of mobile site visits are abandoned if a site takes more than 3 seconds to load, according to a Doubleclick study. Make sure your site loads quickly, not just on desktops but on mobile devices too. Google penalizes sites that load slowly on mobile devices so it will also hurt your search engine results.
  2. Mobile optimized: While shoppers still primarily make purchases on desktop computers, they frequently start shopping on mobile devices.  It’s a good idea to design your site with a mobile-first approach, ensuring that customers can easily take action and get information no matter what type of device they’re using.
  3. Clear navigation: Don’t try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the layout of your e-commerce site. Sticking with formats that online shoppers are familiar with will help customers accomplish what they need to do quickly. Try having users unfamiliar with your site see how easily they can navigate, shop and check out. This will help you spot confusing areas that need improvement. 46650892_s.jpg
  4. Details, details: The more information you can provide about your products, the better. That means multiple product photos with different angles, the ability to zoom in on details, informative descriptions and videos of the product in use. Be sure to include relevant information such as product dimensions, fabric content, care directions, shipping weight and whether the product needs assembly. Use the manufacturers’ descriptions as a starting point and create your own—to personalize your website copy and differentiate yours from other websites selling the same thing.
  5. Transparency: Never hide key information such as shipping costs or sales taxes. Online shoppers hate getting to the checkout process, only to find you’re charging exorbitant shipping rates. Include a shipping and/or tax calculator that customers can use early in the process to estimate additional costs, or include this information where it's easy to find.                

     

     

    CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

     

     

  6. Free shipping:  What makes online shoppers choose one e-commerce website over another? Often, it's free shipping. In a Walker Sands Future of Retail 2016 study, nine out of 10 consumers say free shipping is the number-one factor that would make them shop online more often. If possible, offer free shipping—and it doesn’t have to be for everything, just for purchases over a certain amount. You can also use free shipping codes as an enticement to buy.
  7. Good search functionality: If a customer’s search is likely to return hundreds of results, you need a way for customers to sort and filter them. Customers expect sophisticated search functionality so be sure your site provides it.
  8. Trustworthiness: Include a privacy policy explaining how you secure and use customers’ personal and financial data. Prominently display your SSL certificate and any other trust or compliance certifications on your home page and checkout pages.
  9. Simple checkout: In general, three pages is the sweet spot for a checkout process. Streamline checkout for regular customers by asking them to create an account and store their information for future orders. However, don't require customers to create an account in order to buy—this is a big turnoff.
  10. Great customer service: Even when shopping online, consumers want to feel help is close at hand. Offer multiple ways customers can contact you, including phone numbers, email and online chat, as well as an FAQ page. Finally, make sure that your post-sale customer service lives up to its promises. That’s the best way to keep e-commerce shoppers coming back again and again.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: THE FOUR MOST IMPORTANT DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of

America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

In a world where consumers and B2B buyers alike have hundreds of choices available at the tap of a touchscreen, customer service is becoming a key differentiator for businesses. In Microsoft’s most recent State of Global Customer Service Report, 61 percent say customer service is very important; in fact, bad service caused 60 percent to stop doing business from companies in the past.

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

 

How can you provide the kind of customer service that gets customers talking (in a good way) about your business and keeps them coming back? Start by unders

tanding the No. 1 thing your customers want from customer service: convenience.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

Convenience likely means different things to different customers. To ensure you’re delivering the convenience your customers want, you need to know their demographics, key concerns and preferred communication methods. However, no matter what target market your business serves, convenient customer service basically boils down to four factors:

 

Speed. Rapid resolution of problems and complaints is crucial to providing customer satisfaction. That starts with responding to them quickly. In the Microsoft survey, for example, 57 percent of consumers say they’re not willing to wait more than five minutes on hold to speak to a customer service rep. Whether you handle customer service via email, phone, chat or some combination of the above, make sure you have adequate support to handle your customer load.

 

Consistency. Today, your customers want to do business with you wherever and whenever they please—online, in pe

rson or over the phone. They expect their experience with your business to be seamless. They don’t like having to repeat the same information they entered online on the phone, or struggle to pick up a package they ordered online in your store. Look for customer relationship management tools that help you maintain information about customers in a central, web-based location so you and your customer service reps can access it wherever you are.

 

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Flexibility. For a 22-year-old, convenience is being able to text a company’s customer service department. For an 82-year-old, texting is the opposite of convenient—he wants to call you and get a live person, not a voicemail menu. To ensure all your customers have a positive opinion of your service, provide a variety of ways for them to contact your customer service team. That might include phone, email, chat, text or even social media. When customers have the option to reach out to you in the way that’s easiest for them—you’re starting the customer service interaction off on the right foot.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: When it Comes to Marketing—Timing is Everything

 

Proactivity. More than three-fourths (77 percent) of consumers in the Microsoft survey have a positive opinion of companies offering proactive customer service notifications. After all, what’s more convenient than having a business take care of customer service issues before they even arise? Provide online training videos, how-to guides, or FAQs on your website to help customers better use your product or service. Create an online knowledge base or user board to help them resolve their own questions. Send customers automatic notifications when products need to be refilled, equipment needs to be serviced, or upgrades are available. Consumers will love it when you do the work for them.

 

Customer service is becoming a more important factor in business success. Fortunately, by providing the convenience customers crave, you can make your business stand out in a positive way.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America,its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

                                                                 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngWhether your business is B2B or B2C, summer calls for special marketing ideas. With summer fun on customers’ minds, it's a good time to loosen up, get creative with your marketing mix and experiment a little. Here are 13 fun summer marketing ideas to try.

 

Summer events

1. Every community has its share of summer events, whether it's a downtown July 4th celebration, a 10K run or a beachfront craft fair. Find a summer event that resonates with your target market and get your business involved. You can sponsor the event, rent a booth or hand out product samples—whatever works for your business there is likely an opportunity.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

2. Host your own summer event. Customers have more time to socialize in the summer, so invite them to an event at your business (or outdoors, to take advantage of the weather). Keep it fun and entertaining—instead of serious gatherings like workshops for B2B clients, host a happy hour, outdoor dinner at a local restaurant or beach barbecue. A beauty salon could partner with a clothing boutique and host a summer fashion show featuring the hottest hairstyles, makeup trends and outfits.

 

3. Give away tickets to a local summer event. Is your community home to an annual music festival, car show or other popular event? Take advantage of the event's popularity by purchasing some tickets and giving them away in a contest.

 

4. Print calendars that highlight summer events in your town. Target the calendars to your customer base—if your business sells toys or children's clothing, feature fun family events; if you own a personal training business, feature fitness-related events. Whenever your customers check their calendars, they’ll think of your business.

 

Get outside

5. People spend more time outdoors in the summer, so if your business is in a location with lots of foot traffic, use summer-themed posters, banners and window displays to get attention. If your business isn't near a high-traffic area, place outdoor banners advertising your business in parts of town that do get a lot of traffic.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: WHEN IT COMES TO MARKETING—TIMING IS EVERYTHING

 

6. Have a sidewalk sale. Join other business owners near your location and organize a sidewalk sale or “taste of” event, for example, where retailers promote sale items outdoors and restaurants sell samples of their signature dishes.

 

7. Take a road trip. A B2B business can go on a “road trip” to visit key customers and share their adventures on social media. A B2C business can go mobile with a cart, booth or display at sports arenas or community events.

 

34737923_s.jpgVacation time

8. Get your customers engaged on social media by holding vacation photo contests. Share your own vacation photos and those of your staff, and ask your customers to share theirs with your business hashtag or contest hashtag.

 

9. Entertain the kids. Summer vacation for kids can mean endless cries of “I’m bored!”. If appropriate for your business, hold classes or workshops for children to learn new skills, such as cooking or crafting, with supplies purchased from your store.

 

10. Target tourists. If your business is near a tourist area, print up brochures and postcards you can place at local visitors’ centers, hotels and other places travelers frequent.

 

Heat up your product mix

11. Plan summer-themed giveaways of seasonal promotional products, such as beach towels, reusable water bottles, portable mini-fans or sunglasses with your company name and logo on them.

 

12. Create summer-only products. Tempt customer with limited-time products. Develop special menu items for your restaurant or fun summer drink specials for your bar.

 

13. Put together summer-only packages. Package products or services to appeal to customers’ summer needs. For example, a beauty salon could offer a pre-beach package: a spray tan and pedicure. A gas station or automotive shop could sell compact first-aid kits for summer road trips.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America,its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngTiming is everything—at least when you’re creating marketing campaigns. In fact, as mobile devices and social media connect consumers with brands and businesses 24/7, timing becomes even more important.

 

Consider these factors when deciding on the timing of your marketing promotions.

 

How long is the decision-making process? How long do your prospects typically take to go through the sales funnel from considering buying a product/service, to researching the field, to making a purchase? If you sell software to large corporations, your sales cycle could be 6 t0 12 months, or more. However, if you own a restaurant, the decision process, from consumers deciding to go out to eat to choosing a location, could take minutes.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

What are you trying to accomplish? For marketing campaigns with ongoing goals, such as increasing brand awareness, timing may not matter as much. However, if your campaign has a time-related goal, such as attracting more customers to your restaurant for your lunch specials or selling all your boutique’s winter sweaters before spring, timing is critical.

 

Is this a seasonal promotion? For marketing tied to a specific date or time frame—such as the holiday shopping season or Father’s Day—first, find out when customers typically begin shopping for the event. If, for instance, most people don’t shop for Father’s Day until the week before, marketing efforts six weeks out are a waste of money. Combine your customer data from past years with information from industry associations and trade publications to pinpoint the best timing.

 

What media do you plan to use? Lead times vary depending on the specific medium you choose. For television or radio advertising, for example, you will need to build in time to develop, record and edit your ad. For print advertising, you’ll need to create ads to fit different publications’ specifications and meet their print deadlines (which often are months earlier than the actual publication date). Allow time for copywriting, design and other creative work. Contact the media outlet for a media kit and other advertiser information.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: MOBILE MARKETING MADE EASY

 

On the other hand, pay-per-click ads, social media posts or advertising, and text message marketing can be created on the spot, making them ideal for timely promotions. For instance, if your store sells umbrellas and there’s a sudden downpour, quickly create posts or texts promoting the umbrellas and send them to your customer list. Is your restaurant having a slow day? Send a text message promotion about Happy Hour to attract people after work.

 

27490300_s.jpgWho are your target customers? Each demographic has its own habits when it comes to engaging with advertising and marketing. Millennials are likely to view your emails, online videos or social media posts on their smartphones, and be more responsive to digital marketing. Baby boomers are more likely than younger customers to watch TV and read newspapers, making these better marketing channels for this demo. Find out from your customers the media they spend the most time with. 

 

When are your customers paying attention? Ask the media you’re considering when your target customers are most likely to be watching/reading/listening. 

 

As for social media posts and email promotions, there are numerous studies—which all seem to contradict each other—about the best times, days and frequencies to post on social media or send emails. The only way to really know what timing works best is to test and monitor your results.

 

For television, radio or print advertising, code your ads to track which ones get the best results. For social media marketing and email marketing, use your platform’s analytics tools to see which days, times and frequencies attract the most attention — and convert the most customers.

 

By choosing the right timing for each marketing method and goal, your small business can achieve better results for each dollar you spend.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering Americas entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administrations National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

                                                                                   

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngUnderstanding consumer behavior—what your target customers think and feel and how they buy—helps you better market your business. Here are the top priorities today’s consumers seek every small business owner should understand.

 

1. Personalization. Once upon a time, you could group consumers broadly by age groups, such as the 18- to 54-year-old TV viewer. Those days are long gone. Even within demographic groups, such as millennials, Generation X, baby boomers, women or Hispanics, there are multiple subgroups that exhibit very different behavior. To capture today’s consumers, you need to understand each customer niche you cater to and target your marketing directly to their interests, needs and concerns.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

2. Experiences. Consumers of all age groups are placing value on experiences over things. More than half of customers in a McKinsey survey say if they had extra income (after buying necessities) they would spend it on vacations, while over 40 percent would spend the extra money on entertainment and/or eating in restaurants. This is good news if you sell experiences. However, if you sell products, you’ll need to provide a customer experience that’s exciting enough to separate shoppers from their dollars.

 

3. Savings. The Great Recession may be over, but it forever changed the way consumers buy. Shoppers simply expect competitive pricing, discounts and deals, according to Mintel’s North America 17 Consumer Trends report. Sales, promotions and coupons will all resonate with consumers. To encourage repeat customers, set up loyalty programs that let you tailor offers to customers’ past purchasing behavior.

 

4. Convenience. Sure, consumers want to save money, but they also want to save time. Speed and convenience are now baseline expectations when shopping. Many consumers are more willing to spend extra for products or services that make their lives easier. Promote ways your business can help consumers save time, spend more time with their families or get something done more efficiently.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: THE ONGOING DEBATE: SHOULD YOU FOCUS ON WINNING NEW CUSTOMERS OR RETAINING LOYAL CUSTOMERS?

 

5. Authenticity. Euromonitor says today's “new consumer” has replaced conspicuous consumption with conscious consumption. Consumers want to do business with companies that share their values. For many, environmental sustainability and authenticity are key deciding factors in their purchasing behaviors.

 

57050546_s.jpg6. Transparency. Consumers expect the companies they do business with to be ethical and open about their business practices, whether that’s how they treat their employees or where the materials for their products are sourced.

 

7. Little luxuries. Overall, consumers are still counting their pennies when it comes to product purchases—but there are a few key areas where they are more likely to be “trading up.” McKinsey says consumers are willing to spend more money for premium products, particularly on alcoholic beverages and personal-care products. More than half of consumers in Nielsen’s Global Premiumization Report say buying premium goods makes them feel good; half say it makes them feel confident. Millennials, in particular, prefer premium products.

 

8. Self-directed shopping. Consumers are relying less on salespeople and advertising to guide their purchasing. Two-thirds (66 percent) of consumers in a Deloitte study say they prefer a self-directed shopping journey, up from 30 percent in 2014. Fewer than 30 percent say advertising influences their purchasing, compared to 70 percent in 2014. Don’t worry: You can still influence consumers. You just need to alter your tactics a bit and use social media, search engine optimization and online reviews to capture their attention throughout their shopping journey.

 

9. A mobile-first experience. Mobile devices and especially mobile search have become essential to the shopping experience. Even among non-millennials, 78 percent use digital devices multiple times during the average shopping trip, Deloitte says. With all age groups searching, browsing and buying on mobile devices, and Google using mobile-friendliness as part of determining a website’s page rank, a mobile-first business website is a must.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

                                                                                    

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngWhat is local search engine optimization (SEO) and why is it so important to small businesses?

 

While SEO optimizes your website so it will rank higher in search results, local SEO ensures your business shows up when people search for companies like yours, specifically in your local area. Local SEO is an important marketing tool for any small business targeting a local customer base.

 

Basically, to increase customer visits to your location, you need to be doing local SEO.

 

Local SEO is becoming more important because more people now search for businesses, products and services on mobile devices. When a prospect searches via smartphone, Google takes the phone’s location into consideration when displaying search results. That gives businesses using local SEO an edge.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

Local SEO can offer many benefits, including:

  • Putting your small business on equal footing with your biggest competitors.
  • Reaching the specific target audience you want—nearby prospects.
  • Grabbing prospects at the exact moment they’re looking for what you’re selling.
  • It’s free!

 

Here's how to implement local SEO for your business.

 

Step 1. Claim your business listing on local search directories.

Begin with Google My Business; then move on to other directories such as Bing Places for Business, Citysearch, MerchantCircle, Yelp and Superpages. Also add any region-specific or industry-specific directories you can think of, such as Angie’s List. You may find a directory has already created a barebones listing for your business; go ahead and claim it (it’s free).

 

Step 2. Claim and optimize your directory listings.

Start with the basic information prospects will use when deciding whether to visit your business—address, phone number, hours of operation and website URL. If you have more than one business location, you will need a separate directory listing for each; this helps improve your search engine rankings.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: THE DOS AND DON’TS OF CONNECTING WITH INFLUENCERS ONLINE

 

It’s critical for your business name, address and phone number (NAP) information to be completely consistent across the various directories.  In other words, if your business is on 42nd Avenue, don’t spell it Av. in one listing, Avenue in another and Ave. in a third. Inconsistent entries confuse search engines and lower your ranking.

 

26897182_s.jpgOnce you’ve got the basics covered, go back to the listings and add details to convince customers to patronize your business. This might include photos of your location or products, menus, current promotions or seasonal hours.

 

Finally, make sure to categorize your listing under the proper type/s of business. (Most search directories allow this.) Proper categorization helps to deliver more accurate search results to users.

 

Step 3. Optimize your website for local search.

For even better results, you’ll want to implement local SEO on your website, too. Start by including your business address in the footer of the home page, on the Contact Us page and anywhere else it’s appropriate. Then add location-specific keywords (such as your neighborhood, city, county or state) in your website’s meta tags, title tags, descriptions and content.

 

Step 4. Keep your information up-to-date.

To get the most from local SEO, you need to maintain current listings on local search directories. Once a month, review your listings and make sure all the information is still accurate. Update as needed—for example, add recent photos or new specials. (Your webhosting company may be able to handle this for you as an added service, so you don’t have to visit hundreds of local search directories and update them by hand.)

 

Refreshing your content gets search engines’ attention and improves your standing in search results.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

                                                                                     

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngOftentimes business owners put a large focus on winning new customers or new business – which of course is necessary for business success. However, this may sound counterintuitive, but if you’re strictly focusing on getting new customers, you could be putting your energies in the wrong place.

 

Here are four reasons why retaining loyal customers is vital to success.

 

1. They cost less.

Statistics on the cost of acquiring customers vs. retaining customers vary widely, but common sense tells us it’s more expensive to land a new customer than to keep one you already have. (You can estimate your own customer acquisition costs by dividing your marketing budget over a certain time period by the number of customers acquired during that period.)

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

It’s easy to lose a customer. Nearly half of consumers will switch brands in return for a coupon, while 47 percent will switch to a competitor within one day of a poor customer service experience.

 

But it’s also easy to keep customers if you simply make the effort. While 68 percent of consumers won’t go back to a company once they switch, 80 percent say the company could have done something to retain them.

 

2. They spend more.

All customers are not created equal when it comes to their value for your business. A report from Accenture shows 43 percent of consumers spend more money with companies they are loyal to. In other words, they’re high-value customers, especially when compared to new customers who may make one small purchase and never come back. Loyalty program software or customer relationship management software can help you track how much a specific customer spends, how often they interact with your business, and how much they cost you so you can focus on your highest-value customers.

 

Try this:

  • Create a loyalty program. According to a survey by Facebook, 77 percent of customers return to the same brands again and again—but only 37 percent say they are “loyal” to those brands. To turn repeat customers into loyal ones, use loyalty marketing software to create promotions that resonate with specific customers based on their prior behaviors. B2B businesses can create similar incentives, such as offering bulk discounts.
  • Upsell and cross-sell. Encourage salespeople to upsell and cross-sell whenever possible (without being pushy). From the retail salesperson who suggests a handbag to go with the dress a shopper is trying on, to the B2B salesperson suggesting a customer purchase an extended service plan, this approach can really boost your bottom line.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: TURN AN ANGRY CUSTOMER INTO A RAVING FAN – [RIEVA’S] TOP 10 TIPS

 

3. They refer new customers.

Existing customers not only spend more with your business, but they are also a valuable source of new customers. Some 55 percent of U.S. consumers who are loyal to a business or brand will recommend it to family and friends, Accenture reports.

45650799_s.jpg

 

Try this:

  • Ask satisfied customers for referrals. Build this into your sales process so you automatically ask for referrals once you know a customer is happy.  You can even automate the process—for example, by sending emails requesting referrals to customers who post positive reviews.
  • Offer a reward, such as a discount on the next purchase, to incentivize referrals.

 

4. They boost your business’s profile online.

Customers who have an existing relationship with your business can easily be persuaded to engage with your business online by posting reviews. This raises awareness of your business and attracts new customers.

 

Try this:

  • Ask customers for reviews; then link to the reviews on social media and your website.
  • Encourage customers to share their experiences with your business on social media, such as posting a photo of the new hairstyle they just got at your salon. Service businesses or B2B companies can ask loyal customers to provide testimonials for use in marketing materials.

 

You can’t keep your current customers forever, of course. As time passes, their needs inevitably change, and you’ll need to replace these customers with new ones. But by devoting yourself to satisfying existing customers, it’s easier to generate a steady stream of new ones, as well.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com.  A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

                                                                                      

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngHave you heard the expression, “content is king?” Well, content marketing is one of the hottest buzzwords in marketing right now, which means it should be included in your marketing strategy if it isn’t already.

 

Content is wide-ranging and can take the form of articles, blog posts, white papers, videos and social media posts. All of these can help your small business build brand awareness, attract qualified leads and increase sales. So, what’s the trick to succeed at content marketing? Here are eight tips:

 

1. Set goals. As with any marketing effort, you must put measurable goals in place before creating your content. You may have different goals for different types of content. For example, Twitter posts may be intended to increase awareness of your business among new customers, while articles shared on LinkedIn might be targeted toward getting existing customers to contact you to purchase additional services.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

2. Understand your audience. Tailor content marketing to your specific audience. If you sell clever T-shirts targeted to teenagers, content marketing might mean posting funny GIFs on Instagram and Snapchat. If you sell IT services to businesses, sharing thought leadership articles on LinkedIn is more effective. What social channels, industry websites and other online venues do your target customers frequent? What common questions do they have about your product or service? What problems can you help them solve?

 

3. Plan different types of content. How-to content, visual content and online video are among the top content marketing trends, the Content Marketing Institute reports. If creating multiple types of content sounds daunting, try repurposing the same information in different formats. For example, create a white paper, break it down into smaller blog posts, pull out interesting facts to share as tweets, and use statistics to create an infographic.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: THE SURPRISING IMPACT OF EMAIL MARKETING AND HOW TO MAXIMIZE ITS EFFECT

 

4. Develop a content marketing plan. Your plan should specify what types of content you will share, where you will share it, when/how often, and your goals for each piece. Assign responsibility for creating content. If you don't have the staff or talent in-house, look for freelance copywriters and designers at sites like Upwork or Freelancer. If you’re going the DIY route, Canva is a great resource for creating infographics, charts and other visuals.

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5. Think mobile first. Whether you’re targeting B2C or B2B consumers, they increasingly view email, social media and websites on their mobile phones. Make sure any content you create looks just as good—and is just as readable—on a smartphone as it is on a desktop computer.

 

6. Include a call to action. Every piece of content should include a clear call-to-action (CTA) that helps you achieve the goals you set in Step 1. Examples include “Call for an instant price quote,” “Download our white paper on [X topic],” or “Learn more about [X product].” Link each CTA to a relevant landing page where viewers can take the next step, such as providing their contact information, making a purchase or filling out a form.

 

7. Promote and share your content. Host your content on your own website and share it on social media. (Budget for some social media advertising to make your content stand out in viewers’ crowded feeds.) Buffer and Hootsuite are popular tools to help you manage content on social media. Don’t forget email: A Content Marketing Institute study last year noted B2B marketers ranked email as the most effective channel for content marketing.

 

8. Measure results. With digital content marketing, you can see exactly how every piece of content performs. Use social media analytics and web analytics tools to track how many people interact with each piece of content and what they do afterwards. Also test different elements (headlines, images, keywords etc.) to see which get the best response from your audience.

It’s going to take some time, effort and investment, but content marketing can pay off big for your small business.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com.  A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky.\ Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

           

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngMore than 83 million strong, Millennials (generally defined as those born between 1982 and 2000) account for more than one-fourth of the U.S. population and are becoming increasingly important as consumers. If you want your business to attract more of these influential customers, here are the seven things you should be doing.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

1. Get reviews. Some 85 percent of Millennials research products and services before making a purchase, according to a report from Kissmetrics. That means they’re checking out company websites, as well as looking at online reviews, checking social media and asking their social circle for recommendations.  Most (89 percent) Millennials trust recommendations from friends and family more than a business’s own claims, and 93 percent have made purchases based on these recommendations. However, recommendations from strangers are also important: 84 percent of Millennials say their purchases are at least “somewhat” influenced by user-generated content online. Make sure your business is on all the ratings and review sites relevant to your industry, and monitor your reviews for anything negative so you can quickly deal with the situation before it goes viral.

 

2. Be social. For Millennial consumers, it’s all about social media. They want to share what they’re thinking, doing and buying. Savvy brands are harnessing this social focus by creating “Instagrammable” products and services with visual appeal. (Facial masks, blue lipstick and rainbow-colored hair dye are all examples of beauty trends that have caught on with young consumers because they get lots of “likes” on Instagram.) Whether you’re brewing lattes at your coffee shop or creating hairstyles at your salon, think about how you can punch up the visual aspect of your business to create shareable moments. Then promote your business’ social media accounts and engage with your customers on them.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: YOUR CONSUMER IS CHANGING: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MARKETING TO GEN Z

 

3. Be socially responsible. Millennials like to support businesses that share their values. That might mean your business taking a stand on a political issue, getting involved with a global charity or participating in local community events. Choose a cause that makes sense for your business (Millennials value authenticity—they know when you’re trying to fake it) and be sure to promote it in all your marketing materials. Think of ways your Millennial customers can get involved, too—they want to be participants, not just observers.

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4. Offer convenience. More than any other generation, Millennials are all about convenience, reports PWC’s Total Retail Survey 2016. In fact, one reason this generation surprisingly actually prefers to shop in-store rather than online is they can’t wait for even one-day shipping! “Ease of checkout” is highly important to Millennials in the PWC survey. Since this age group is wedded to its smartphones, be sure to offer digital loyalty programs so they don’t have to fumble for a plastic or punch card. Consider upgrading to near-field communications (NFC) contactless payment systems like Google Wallet and Apple Pay or, at minimum, offer mobile payments via smartphone or tablet in your store, so impatient Millennials can pay anywhere without having to wait in line.

 

5. Provide free Wi-Fi. For a Millennial, a business without Wi-Fi is like a business without oxygen—unthinkable. Make sure your store, waiting area or restaurant has it. Eight in 10 Millennials in PWC’s survey use their smartphones in-store, either to look up product information or ask friends’ opinions of a possible purchase. Setting up a separate guest Wi-Fi network with no password required offers optimum convenience for customers.

 

6. Let them customize everything. Millennials expect what they want the way they want it, and they like to express themselves through the products and services they purchase. The level of customization can range from simply being flexible with menu substitutions in your restaurant to offering “build-your-own-breakfast-burrito” options (and don’t forget about gluten-free, vegan and Paleo choices). If you sell services, try offering different menus of mix-and-match services, or different packages (bronze, silver, gold-level) with different services included.

 

7. Emphasize your independent status. As I mentioned, authenticity is important to Millennials, and there’s nothing more authentic than a small, independent business. Your marketing efforts should emphasize this. Tell the story of how you started your business; share how your product is produced or where it’s sourced; let customers get to know you and your staff through social media. Getting involved in your local business community, such as promoting shop-local initiatives or organizing “First Friday” sales, will help raise your profile as an independent business owner.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com.  A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

        

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

With so many ways to reach out to your customers and prospects, from social media to direct mail to content marketing, you might think plain old email marketing is a thing of the past. Think again: Despite all the marketing options out there, email just might be your single, most effective choice.

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

 

Here are three reasons why:

 

1. Email is customers’ preferred way to receive communications from businesses. According to Marketing Sherpa, 60 percent of consumers say email is their favorite way to receive updates and promotions from companies they’re interested in.

 

2. Email attracts new customers and helps retain existing ones. Email is 40 percent more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. It also ranks as, by far, the most effective method for both acquiring and retaining customers, according to eMarketer.

 

3. Email drives sales. Most (69 percent) U.S. adults say a company’s email has influenced a purchase they’ve made, Marketing Sherpa reports.

 

Not only is email marketing highly effective, it’s also affordable for even the smallest businesses and easier than ever to implement. To maximize your email marketing results, try these tips.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

Segment your email lists.

You can slice and dice your lists based on any information you have about your customers—past interactions with your business, purchasing behavior, location, etc. Then send emails tailored to each segment. Marketers report that segmented email campaigns lead to a 760 percent increase in revenues (No, that’s not a typo).

 

Personalize emails.

Emails that use the recipient’s name are more likely to be opened. You can also create emails that reference customer details such as a previous purchase or items the customer has viewed on your website.

 

39764468_s.jpgTest, test and test again.

With email, it’s easy to see what’s working and what’s not. Do A/B testing of everything from your subject lines to your preview text to the color and size of buttons. Also test various frequencies for sending emails, including time of day and day of the week. Customers may want to hear from you more often than you think: 90 percent of respondents in a MarketingSherpa survey say they want to hear from businesses they’re interested in at least monthly, 60 percent want to hear from them at least weekly and 15 percent want to hear from them daily. For best results, give customers multiple options to choose from.

 

Optimize mobile devices.

Almost 90 percent of emails are read on mobile devices, and more emails are opened on mobile devices than on desktops, according to Kahuna. If recipients can’t read your emails on their smartphones, they’re going to delete them. Beyond making your emails readable on mobile devices, also make sure that any actions users take lead to a mobile-friendly landing page.

 

SIX TIPS TO GAIN NEW CUSTOMERS

 

Create email-specific landing pages.

Marketers report that this is the single most effective email marketing tactic, according to research published by the DMA.  If you can’t create a specific landing page for each individual email, at least make sure that links in your emails direct recipients to a page on your website that makes sense. For example, if you want someone to “Shop New Arrivals” on your e-commerce website, that button should go to the page with new products on it— not to the general homepage, where customers will feel lost.

 

Incorporate transactional emails.

These are emails that are triggered by some type of transaction between the recipient and your company. Welcome emails, order confirmation emails and return receipt emails are all examples of transactional emails. Transactional emails have eight times the open rate of marketing emails overall. Increase their value by including a call to action that drives additional customer interaction. For instance, a return receipt email could include a link to browse your website for new products to replace what was returned.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com.  A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

           

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

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